Watching the Shadows
Xinjiang

China elected to UN rights council: Orwellian irony

In another one to file under #OrwellWouldShit, the UN General Assembly elected China to the Human Rights Council—despite the country holding some one million Uighur Muslims in concentration camps. The General Assembly also elected Russia, Cuba, Uzbekistan and Pakistan—all similarly accused of human rights violations, if not quite such ambitious ones. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo criticized the election of countries with “abhorrent human rights records.” A week before the General Assembly vote, China’s UN ambassador Zhang Jun read a statement before the body, denouncing the US for “systematic racial discrimination and violence,” which was endorsed by 25 other nations—including Russia, Iran and North Korea. Of course the perverse irony of this is that Pompeo and Zhang are both correct. And therefore neither has any moral credibility to criticize the other. (Photo: Xinjiang Judicial Administration via The Diplomat)

New York City
Bronx

Human rights violations seen in NYPD repression

The NYPD’s violent mass arrest of peaceful protesters in the South Bronx violated international human rights law and will likely cost New York City taxpayers millions of dollars in lawsuits, according to a new investigation by Human Rights Watch. The in-depth report examines the June incident in the Mott Haven district, where hundreds of demonstrators were “kettled” behind barricades before being arrested. As riot police blocked protesters’ path minutes before Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 8 PM curfew, a second line of officers charged them from behind, “unprovoked and without warning, wielding batons, beating people from car tops, shoving them to the ground, and firing pepper spray into their faces before rounding up more than 250 people for arrest.” The report documents at least 61 cases of protesters, legal observers and bystanders who sustained injuries in the operation. HRW counts the incident as “among the most aggressive police responses to protests across the United States following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.” (Image: Human Rights Watch)

North America
Trump

Podcast: What will it take to stop Trump? III

In Episode 57 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg makes the odious but essential case for a tactical vote to defeat Trumpism, a political phenomenon that represents an updated variant of fascism. This alone will not be sufficient, as Trump will almost certainly not leave office willingly, but attempt to cling to power by any means. If he succeeds, we could be at the moment Italy experienced in 1922, and Germany in 1933. Biden is a domesticated Beltway mediocrity, and even if he wins the country is still going to be in deep crisis. A mass movement strong enough to defeat Trump’s power-grab could also be strong enough to press its offensive against Biden, and wrest concessions to a progressive agenda—or even (much more ambitiously) begin to build parallel power. But it begins with defeating Trump, and this must mean a sound electoral defeat as well as mass mobilization in the streets. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Image: APhilosophicalEnquiry)

North America
Lafayette Park

Podcast: What will it take to stop Trump? II

In Episode 56 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg takes stock of the evident reality that Trump is getting ready to steal the November election—whether by undermining the Postal Service, suspending the election entirely under pretext of the pandemic, or simply refusing to recognize the result and sparking a constitutional crisis that could potentially involve the military. The Transition Integrity Project, created to assess the impending dilemma, warns: “A show of numbers in the streets—and actions in the streets—may be decisive factors in determining what the public perceives as a just and legitimate outcome.” As the RNC delegates openly call for making Trump president for life, Weinberg examines examples from around the world where people are currently filling the streets to resist an illegitimate power-grab by a would-be dictator—from Belarus to Bolivia, from Hong Kong to Mali, from Thailand to Lebanon. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: GGWash.org)

Mexico
guardianacional

Mexico: narco-dystopia amid Trump-AMLO schmooze

Mexico’s President Lopez Obrador met with Trump at the White House to inaugurate the new trade treaty that replaces NAFTA. Embarrassingly, the meeting was punctuated by horrific new outbursts of narco-violence in Mexico. And the country’s promised cannabis legalization—mandated by the high court and looked to as a de-escalation of the dystopian drug war—is stalled by a paralyzed Congress. (Photo: SecretarĂ­a de Seguridad y ProtecciĂłn Ciudadana)

North America
portland

Lawsuits as feds detain Portland protesters

The US Attorney for the District of Oregon has called for an investigation into allegations that unidentified federal agents are arresting people in the city of Portland. Oregon’s Attorney General also announced that the state will file charges in federal court against the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies. The ACLU has already filed a lawsuit against DHS in federal court, seeking to block federal agents from arresting or using physical force against journalists and legal observers. “What is happening in Portland is an unconstitutional nightmare,” said an ACLU staff attorney. (Photo via Reddit)

New York City
Fifth Estate

Fifth Estate Live with Bill Weinberg

Portland-based musician and vlogger David Rovics interviews CounterVortex editor Bill Weinberg for Fifth Estate Live. The two discuss Weinberg’s upcoming story for the anarchist journal Fifth Estate on the “two faces of fascism” the US confronts at this moment—a Trumpian dictatorship or a post-pandemic “new normality” of complete surveillance and social control. But the moment is also pregnant with possibility, witnessing the mainstreaming of anarchist ideas such as abolishing the police. Initiatives such as cannabis legalization as a first step toward this aim are gaining ground nationally. Looking back, they draw lessons for the current revolutionary moment from the Tompkins Square Park uprising on Manhattan’s Lower East Side in the 1980s, and the rebellion of the Zapatistas in Mexico in the 1990s—who continue to hold liberated territory in the southern state of Chiapas even today. Watch the video archive on YouTube or listen to the audio version on SoundCloud.

Africa
Hachalu

Ethiopia: slaying of musician sparks Oromo uprising

The military has been deployed in the Ethiopian capital amid a general uprising by the Oromo people that broke out after the assassination of a popular singer. Hachalu Hundessa, shot while driving on the outskrits of Addis Ababa, was an icon of the Oromo protest movement that has been mounting since 2015. His songs have been hailed as the “soundtrack of the Oromo revolution,” and he was named “Oromo Person of the Year” by cultural advocates in 2017. Two have been arrested in the killing, but rebellion continues to spread across Central Ethiopia. At least 80 have been killed and many detained. Oromo leader Jawar Mohammed is among those arrested. (Photo: DAGI Pisctures via BBC News)

North America
It Can't Happen Here

Podcast: two faces of fascism

In Episode 54 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg explores the twin threats of a totalitarian order that the United States faces at this history-making moment: Trump-fascism, perhaps to be lubricated by a “Reichstag Fire” scenario ahead of the November election, and a post-pandemic “new normality” of complete surveillance and social control. Eerily predictive of these twin dystopias are two works of “future fiction” from the 20th century—It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis and The Machine Stops by EM Foster. With the Black Lives Matter uprising deepening the ugly backlash from the Trump camp and a COVID-19 “second wave” looming, the US is poised on a razor’s edge between long-overdue leaps of social progress and descent into some kind of updated American variant of fascism. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (1936 WPA Theatre Project poster via Minnesota Playlist)

Africa
BLM

African countries call on UN to investigate racism in US

African countries are urging the UN Human Rights Council to investigate systemic racism and police violence in the United States, according to a draft resolution. Diplomats received the resolution ahead of a debate at the Human Rights Council in Geneva to be convened on the question at the request of Burkina Faso. The draft resolution calls for the establishment of an independent international commission of inquiry (COI)—a measure normally used in response to a major crisis, such as the armed conflict in Syria. The resolution states that the COI should be empowered to “establish facts and circumstances related to the systemic racism, alleged violations of international human rights law and abuses against Africans and of people of African descent in the United States.” (Photo: The Village Sun)

East Asia
Taiwan4HK

Taiwan solidarity with Hong Kong —and BLM

At a rally at Taipei’s Liberty Square marking the one-year anniversary of the start of the Hong Kong protest movement, demonstrators held banners that read: “Taiwan and Hong Kong are partners together, the struggle remains unfinished,” and “Against the expansion of Chinese imperialism.” Earlier that day, demonstrators gathered in Taipei’s 228 Memorial Park for a show of a solidarity with the Black Lives Matter protests in the United States. Some speakers drew parallels between the contemporary police brutality in the US and the repression of dissidents during the “White Terror” of Taiwan’s authoritarian past. (Photo: CNA)

Palestine
Rabin Square

Mass rally in Tel Aviv against West Bank annexation

A joint Jewish-Palestinian rally against Israeli plans for annexation of West Bank settlements drew thousands to Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square. Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint List of Arab-led parties, told the crowd, “We are at a crossroads. One path leads to a joint society with a real democracy, civil and national equality for Arab citizens… The second path leads to hatred, violence, annexation and apartheid. We’re here in Rabin Square to pick the first path.” US Sen. Bernie Sanders addressed the rally via video conference, saying he was “heartened” to see Arabs and Jews demonstrating together. (Photo: +972)